Anwar A. Khan
One hundred one years back, a shepherd king was born on March 17, 1920 in a remote hamlet of Gopalgonj District, Bangladesh as Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. He showed the potential of leadership since his school life. From a very young age, Mujib strived to work for issues that mattered to him, hankering one cause after another. He showed the first sign of being a revolutionary leader when he distributed rice from his father’s own stockpile, giving it to famine stricken people in his area, much to his father’s dismay. His flames are not for the sake of smoke- they are the catalyst for the politicians and patriots to rise like a phoenix year after years. He brought more joy than anyone could have ever projected. No one can take that away.
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s story is one of perseverance and success against all odds, thereby earning the title, "Father of the Bengali Nation" from his people. He combined an unapologetically progressive view of what the country could be with a pragmatic willingness to work across party-lines to get things done. The momentous shift of the political landscape in those times have enshrined him in the pantheon of Bangladesh’s people. He remains as the most popular and beloved political leader in the world history during his time and afterwards.
Politicians play an important role in the development of a country. The world has seen many great politicians emerging out in last decades. He committed his life to working with the poor throughout the country. He loved to live among impoverished people so that he could better serve them. He personified the potential for goodness in humans and in doing so, he became a role model for people throughout the world.
A great orator, Bangabandhu felt that liberation of the nation was more important than his great personal sacrifice throughout his life. He inspired people of Bangladesh to rise up and challenge injustices and exploitations imposed on us by the Pakistani rulers. He continued to fight for human rights, democracy and creation of Bangladesh. His 7th March, 1971 speech served as a model for other political revolutionary movements leading to a large-scale armed struggle against the Pakistani occupation forces. He is known as a great politician, and a world leader. He was noted for his courage in directing his people, his vision in protecting his people from exploitation by the Pakistani regime and his commitment to the cause of betterment of his people.
He transformed all people of Bangladesh into a single platform to fight against the brutal Pakistani Military junta and achieve our beloved country in 1971. “One thing I believe profoundly: We make our own history. The course of history is directed by the choices we make and our choices grow out of the ideas, the beliefs, the values, the dreams of the people. It is not so much the powerful leaders that determine our destiny as the much more powerful influence of the combined voices of the people themselves” and these words of Eleanor Roosevelt are truly compatible with Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s long struggle for Bangladesh’s independence.
His political voice was continued to have heard throughout his life and his legacy as an advocate for the downtrodden has continued. His ability to summarise the range of human emotions in simple yet eloquent words and phrases has led to his enduring popularity and power and the standard to which others are held.
There is that great proverb – “that until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter." Bangabandhu was like a lion. He wrote history through his great deeds. He made history by his unswerving services to his nation. He inspired so many by his example of caring for the poor and needy. He was canonised as “The Friend of Bengal” or “Bangabandhu” by our people. He began his leadership role early in life. He was integral to the rise and power of Bangladesh. He was the leader of Bangladesh during its height and greatness in the world. He developed a cult following and remains an icon of the politically revolutionary-minded people worldwide. He is an iconic symbol of revolutionary movements worldwide.
Even after his passing, the Sheikh has become a household name, a true testament to his perseverance and dedication to the cause of people’s welfare. Leading by example, Bangabandhu embodied the love, hope, and understanding that he expressed in his sermons and speeches. Over the course of its magnificent history, Bangladesh has been led by the most charismatic of leaders who have guided this country’s people and served as an inspiration for all of us. But one of the greatest personalities ever born in this country and he is Mujib, The Great. He is also known as People’s Politician; one of the most charming leaders in the country even in today’s time.
The world is full of aspiring political leaders but sadly, very few live up to the leadership ideals. In fact, many political leaders seem to severely lack some of the most important leadership qualities, such as, integrity and accountability. It is no coincidence that for many people, the word politician has such negative connotations! However, history – and present day – show us that there are still a few who come close to the leadership ideals and who are good examples of an effective political leader and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was the most effective political leader. Political leaders are vitally important – through the authority of government, they assess the distribution of power and resources, build relationships with other stakeholders and make decisions that can have great impact on the well-being of a nation and its people.
Team work is a great way to build confidence and teach leadership to youths and for many, the thought of leading a group of youths can be a daunting one. However, youths respond to the same principles of respect, integrity and communication that defines good leadership in other arenas so by applying the same skills when dealing with a group of youths, it is possible to achieve success. Mujib set his principles in the right direction to achieve success and they worked very well to attain Bangladesh.
Possibly the greatest Bangladesh’s political leaders of all times, who profoundly influenced the political ideas of Bangladesh’s people as no one else could, and left his indelible impact on the course of the country's history both before and after his brutal assassination. He hugely altered the course of the movement as well as the destiny of the nation itself. To summarise, we can say Bangabandhu had great love for Bangladesh’s people and genuine concerns for the poor and the down trodden. He was unmatched for his political acumen and intrepid boldness, and was a leader of towering stature, whom one may adore, and can never afford to ignore. Mujib was the only Great Political Leader of pre- and post- independence polity, and also the last in the line of all Great Political Leaders of Bangladesh. No one else after him qualifies for this tag until this day and time. Let us pay rich tribute to him on his 101th Birth Anniversary.
Anwar A. Khan is an independent political analyst